Review and Preview Number 4

Yesterday, the Dodgers lost to the San Francisco Giants by a score of 8-5.  Clayton Kershaw allowed an earned run in the 3rd inning, ending his scoreless inning streak against the Giants at 26.1.  This was one of the better games I’ve gotten to watch, even though it was a loss.  Giants starter Matt Cain had a perfect game against the Dodgers going into the 5th inning, until Matt Kemp hit a solo Home run to Right Field, ending the shutout bid, no-hitter, and perfect game, all in one swing of the bat.  Although, later in the inning, the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs, and in typical Dodger fashion, failed to score.  I’ll talk about that more later.  With the Dodgers down 4-1, each team scored a run, making the score 5-2.  In the bottom of the 8th inning, with 2 outs, the Giants brought in closer Brian Wilson with Matt Kemp and Jamey Carroll on 1st and 2nd base respectively.  Former giant Juan Uribe came up to bat and hit a line drive double to the gap in left center that scored both base-runners.  James Loney then came up and hit a typical James Loney ground ball through the hole between First Baseman Aubrey Huff and Second baseman Freddy Sanchez (although Huff probably could have gotten it), which drove in Uribe to tie the game.

So with the score tied 5-5 in the top of the 9th, manager Don Mattingly had to leave Lance Cormier to pitch, because everyone else in the bullpen was used or couldn’t be used.  Lance, is the epitome of mop-up pitcher who doesn’t deserve a major league job.  He’s only ever come in when the game was out of reach for either team.  So Cormier got the first two outs in the 9th inning, but then gave up two consecutive singles, followed by a Home Run to Cody Ross.  And that was basically the game.

I don’t blame Mattingly too much for leaving Cormier in, because he had no other options, but the events leading to that situation could have been handled better.  When the bases were loaded in the 5th inning with one out, Mattingly elected to pinch-hit for embattled starter Clayton Kershaw, which is understandable (even though almost every hit he gave up was a blooper or a weak dribbler that just got past the defense) because this might have been his only chance to put some runs on the board against Cain.  But he chose to pinch hit with Juan Castro.  Juan Castro is a 39 year old utility infielder, who statistically, has one of the worst bats in major league history.  That’s not hyperbole, he’s really that bad.  Castro, predictably, flew out to short center.  Admittedly, Mattingly’s other options were Jerry Sands, Tony Gwynn Jr., Dioner Navarro and Russ Mitchell.  But all of those options make more sense than Castro, particularly Sands.  Sands has the third most doubles on the team, and could have been counted on to at least hit a fly ball to the deep outfield.

That left the Dodgers in a situation where they had to pitch 4 more innings with 4 relievers.  Elbert and Guerra each pitched 1 shutout inning, and each probably could have pitched 1 more.  Nevertheless, Mattingly brought in Mike MacDougal, who gave up a run, and had to be taken out so that Cormier could finish the inning.  Hindsight is always 20/20 (I didn’t really see the Dodgers scoring three runs off of Wilson), but Mattingly should have either let Kershaw hit for himself (how much worse could he have been than Juan Castro) so that he could keep pitching, or at least let Elbert and/or Guerra go another inning.  And if you’re going to pinch hit, don’t use Juan Castro of all people.

Still, as much of a punch to the stomach as Ross’ Home Run was, it was still very fun to watch the Dodgers come back against Brian Wilson, who is a good closer with a nasty-looking beard.  I suppose both myself and Mike Petriello jinxed Clayton Kershaw though, so fans can blame us I suppose.  The bottom line here is that this hopefully was a learning experience for Don Mattingly, as well as a game where the offense showed some life.

Tonight’s game looks to be very good as well, and that’s not just because I’ll be there in person to see it.  Chad Billingsley will be pitching against Madison Bumgarner.  Bills is coming off a great pitching performance against the Diamondbacks, while Bumgarner has been having a pretty bad year so far.  Bumgarner will turn it around at some point, but hopefully not tonight.  Billingsley has done very well in his career against the Giants, with a sub three ERA and two complete game shutouts (his only two of his career).  Otherwise, I’d expect this game to be similar to the last one, except that Bills will pitch better than Kershaw did.  I’d say that Bills goes 7 innings and gives up 2 runs, while Bumgarner goes 6 and gives up 4 runs.  It should be very fun to watch.  Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the experience both watching the game, and how the fans were, as I’ve heard nothing but good things from people who went to the game last night.  Many said it was a very family-friendly experience, much as a ballpark should be.

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